Age 66, of Fox Chapel, PA, lost his last match against an intractable cancer with his wife at his side on Wednesday August 25, 2021. Neal was born on September 12, 1954 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. The son of the late Joseph A. and Olga D. Brendel. The husband of Pamela Rollings for 33 years. The father of Ross Brendel (Capel) and Kurt Brendel and the grandfather of Clara Brendel. The brother of the late Dr. Timothy J. Brendel (Mary Kale), the late Kenneth J. Brendel, John S. Brendel (Janet) of Franklin Park, PA, Joseph R. Brendel (Susan) of Wexford, PA, and Maryann Brendel of Oakmont, PA. Survived by many fine nieces and nephews and cousins. Growing up in McKeesport, Neal attended Serra Catholic High School, graduating in 1972. He took up wrestling in 9th grade and was recruited by Yale University. At Yale, Neal met his wife, Pamela, during their senior year. They both attended the University of Virginia Law School, graduating in 1979. After law school, Neal and Pamela made their way to Pittsburgh where Neal joined Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Johnson & Hutchison (now K&L Gates), while Pamela joined the firm now known as Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. Both later became partners of their respective firms, and they married in 1988. Neal had a decorated career as a collegiate wrestler at Yale, concluding his career as an All American at the 190-pound weight class. As a senior, Yale awarded him the William Neely Mallory Award as the athlete “who best represents the highest ideals of American Sportsmanship,” and he remains the only wrestler to have won that award. After wrestling, Neal took up the sport of rugby, and he was selected to play for the national team—the United States Eagles—from 1983 to 1987. He competed in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in Australia in 1987, while remaining a full-time partner at K&L. He also led the Pittsburgh Rugby Football Club (now the Pittsburgh Forge) as captain and president during the Club’s most successful years in the 1980s. He was the first national team player to serve as Chairman of the USA Rugby Football Union, and he also served as the North American West Indies representative to the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby). Mr. Brendel was elected to partner at K&L in 1986 and became renowned as a litigator of large and complex disputes in courtrooms in states across the country. In 2009, Mr. Brendel transitioned his stateside practice and founded the K&L Gates office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Over the course of a decade in the Middle East, he developed an active practice in international arbitration and simultaneously built the office to critical mass in a strategic and highly competitive legal market. Neal retired from K&L Gates in 2019, concluding a forty-year career at the firm. He continued working as a mediator and arbitrator until his illness struck him down. Neal was an avid traveler, naturalist, and sportsman. He cultivated native trees and plants at his home in Fox Chapel and enjoyed bird hunting trips around the US and abroad. He cherished his colleagues, friends, and family, and will be deeply missed. Friends will be received at John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. (freyvogelfuneralhome.com) 4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street on Tuesday from 2-4 and 6-8p.m. Funeral Wednesday, Mass of Christian Burial, St Jude Parish, Sacred Heart Church at 10a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to Serra Catholic High School, 200 Hershey Drive, McKeesport, PA 15132.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Neal Robert Brendel, please visit our floral store.